Goodman Group offers unique high school co-op experience

High school co-op programs typically prepare students to be future leaders, with students gaining exposure to professions they’re interested in and learning about the skills they need to advance in business and industry.

But the program offered by Brock University’s Goodman Group does more than that. It also helps secondary school students develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills as part of their co-op experience.

This past February to June, nearly a dozen Grade 11 and 12 students from high schools across the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) participated in Entrepreneurship Co-op, a unique co-op internship program partnership between Goodman Group, the DSBN and ihub, an incubator that provides resources and support for startup companies. Students earn a high school co-op credit while they learn about the basics of entrepreneurship and develop their own business ideas.

Students meet with Goodman Group and ihub staff members monthly to learn about the feasibility of their ideas, develop their business models and participate in workshop-style learning focused on market research. Just weeks into the program, meetings and workshops transitioned online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognizing a need in the market is what inspired Sartaj Sidhu to participate in Entrepreneurship Co-op and create Stride Inc., a rideshare program for students aged seven to 17 that primarily uses parents as drivers.

The Grade 12 student from A.N. Myers Secondary School in Niagara Falls said his experience in after-school activities revealed there could be more options for students to safely participate in activities, while providing parents with peace of mind.

“Parents are really busy, so sometimes students need to wait alone until someone can come pick them up after extracurricular activities,” he said. “With Stride Inc., I can help serve students at a cheaper rate than other rideshare platforms. Parents are the drivers, so it’s also a safer option.”

Janvi Ganatra, a Grade 11 student also from A.N. Myer Secondary School, took part in the program as a way of exploring her career options.

“Since the beginning of high school, I knew I was interested in something business or entrepreneurial,” she said. “Getting to create a business while in high school showed me that this is also a career path.”

As part of her co-op, Ganatra created Rani Rental, a South-Asian clothing rental company that allows customers to borrow items when needed rather than purchase them at a significantly higher price. Ganatra said an online business would allow for a more affordable, sustainable option for a group that is often left out of the rental company industry.

“I noticed that South-Asian apparel in North America can be inconvenient to find and difficult to access,” she said. “The special occasion outfits can also be very expensive and not very sustainable if you only wear them a few times. I think that this company can address this need, while also being a more environmentally friendly option.”

For other students like Garret Collins, the Entrepreneurship Co-op program helps further develop an existing business by giving them more time and support to bring their ideas to the next level.

The Grade 12 student from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in St. Catharines opened CANcube, Canada’s largest supplier of speed cubes, a year before starting the Entrepreneurship Co-op program because of his strong interest in professional speed cubing and cube competitions.

“I wanted to build my business and advance what I was already doing,” he said. “Participating in this co-op gave me great resources and people to speak to and gave me a lot of insight on how I could further develop my business ideas.”

At the end of the program, students present their pitches virtually to their teachers and mentors.

“The biggest takeaway for me was the experience of trying out entrepreneurship as a student,” said Ganatra. “It’s been a unique opportunity that allowed me to explore careers in business.”

The next offering of the High School Entrepreneurship Co-op program for DSBN students will take place this fall. Interested students are encouraged to speak with their co-op teacher.

Read more stories in: Business, News, People
Tagged with: , ,